My ideas run my life every day, pulling me here and there, often before I have fully processed the ones from the day before. I indulge in what is called divergent thinking, where my mind is constantly flowing through stories and associations that only make sense in my own mind, linking unrelated things. This is the opposite of convergent or critical thinking, the kind that helps you excel on standardized tests and such.
My biggest challenge is focusing and deciding which ideas and projects to work on and actually finish before moving on to the next. My second biggest challenge is that I'm always off in the clouds somewhere and I often don't notice or take care of simple, obvious things.
Then you know what happens?
I get mad at myself. I have negative thoughts. I feel overwhelmed, anxious and tired from all the ideas swirling around, things I need to do, visions I need to make real. All over the place. This is why I crave simplicity so much because I'm easily stimulated and I can't address all of the ideas that present themselves every day.
So how do you deal? Yes, you. Are you like me in that you feel all over the place at times and too scatterbrained to take on a huge endeavor like a business or a blog or some type of creative project that your heart and soul really really needs?
Here are some strategies to help you cope:
// Don't beat yourself up and mope around wishing you were more focused. View your creative mind as a gift, not a burden.
// Awareness is key. Carry around a pocket sized journal or use a note app on your phone to keep track of your ideas as they pop into your head. I also use my voice memo feature on my phone for when I'm driving.
// Once a day (or as often as possible), review all the ideas you have captured here and there and aggregate them somehow into one list. Look for patterns in your ideas. Think about what you can realistically work on now, soon, and later. Tap into the more practical part of your mind and decide which ideas are high priority so you can come up with a plan and timeline to get those things done.
// Look for areas of excess in your life. Last night I got into bed with four books, thinking that I would read a chapter from each one before I went to sleep. I just couldn't choose one. You know what happened? I ended up picking up my phone "one last time" to check for notifications and I never read any chapters from any of the books. Next time, I will grab one book and leave the others and the phone on my nightstand.
// Set boundaries and learn to say no to others and to yourself. No, you don't need to go on Pinterest real quick before you start working. No, you don't need to address every email, every phone call, every inquiry the moment it is received. Since you know you are easily distracted, try to avoid tempting yourself when you know it's time to focus.
// Ask for advice. Is there someone in your life who is super organized and efficient? We all need support sometimes and there is nothing wrong with asking for help to develop an area of your life that you struggle with. If it's in the budget, hire someone.
What you cannot do is limit yourself based on the false belief that you're too scattered and idealistic to get things done.
You can. Pay attention to yourself and start noticing your patterns. Learn from them so you can give yourself both the space to free flow and engage your ideas as well as dedicated time to focus, stay with an idea and see it through. If you have any ideas to add, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!